QC Approve Budget, "Pay For Stay" Ordinance Enacted

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Clay County Judge Gary Howell (left) and Judge-Elect Mike Patterson with one of the county's new road graders, acquired recently through a lease agreement with Caterpillar.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Members of the Clay County Quorum Court held their final meeting of 2016 Monday evening, gathering at the county shed in Corning. Prior to the regular meeting, the final for Judge Gary Howell, those attending were treated to a Christmas dinner prepared by the sheriff's department.

With all members in attendance, Howell called the meeting to order. "I've enjoyed the last 20 years," Howell noted. "I'll miss all of you and I've really enjoyed working with you."

The justices then turned their attention to a fairly light agenda, which included some of the usual end-of-year housekeeping.

Three ordinances were approved by the court, including the document which establishes the annual operating budget for 2017. Two other measures were approved, both at the request of the Clay County Sheriff's Department. The first sets a fee for non-criminal fingerprinting services and the second establishes a "pay for stay" system for some prisoners of the detention center.

Ordinance 2016-20

The ordinance to set the budget for the coming year was approved without dissent by the justices. The measure had been reviewed by court members at the November meeting, and reflects project General Fund revenues of $4,151,023.65 with a total of $3,789,463.75 budgeted.

The budget does include some un-budgeted funding, and included a raise for all county employees. Pay for elected officials, excluding the JPs, was also included due to new state laws concerning the subject.

The budget ordinance was placed on all three readings and approved, along with the accompanying emergency clause.

In compliance with state law which requires publication in a local print outlet, the complete county line-item budget may be found elsewhere in this edition of the CCTD.

Ordinance 2016-19

The justices also approved an ordinance which establishes the service fees for non-criminal fingerprinting by the sheriff's department.

"This is done anytime someone needs a background check or files for a concealed carry permit," Sheriff Terry Miller explained. "We have been charging five dollars for the service, but we will increase that to $10 the first of the year."

Under the wording of the ordinance, the monies realized from the effort will be split equally between the sheriff department's DARE program and the K-9 drug dog fund.

The first, second and third readings of the ordinance were held, and the measure was approved with the accompanying emergency clause without dissent.

Ordinance 2016-21

At the request of Miller's department, the court also approved an ordinance which establishes a "pay for stay" program at the Clay County Detention Center.

Facing escalating costs, the department has turned to a state law which allows the county to charge a daily fee for prisoners to be lodged in the facility. The measure also stipulates that prisoners will be responsible for costs of health care, and expenses related to transporting them to and from jail.

"This would be for the days a person is in jail before going to court, or those who were picked up for probation violations and such," Miller explained. "Once someone is convicted and ordered held in our jail we could no longer charge at that point."

The justices discussed the merits of the system, and questioned the ongoing administrative costs related to the effort. Afterward they voted to approve the measure, waiving the requirement it be read on three separate occasions, and also accepted the accompanying emergency clause.

Miller noted the costs would be assessed as part of a judgment upon conviction, and added prisoners will be billed through the Prosecuting Attorney's office for the expenses. The ordinance also stipulates the additional funds "shall not offset or reduce funding from other sources for the maintenance, operations and capital expenditures of the Clay County Jail, a.k.a. Clay County Detention Center."

"Once it has been converted to a judgment, the funds will be collected like a fine or court costs," Miller explained. "Once there is a judgment there are other ways, such as getting their state tax refund check, to recoup at least some of our money."

Two resolutions were also passed on a vote of 9-0, which set the payment standards for HUD housing for both 2015 and 2016. The new payment standards for the current year range from $453 for an efficiency or one bedroom unit to $966 for a four-bedroom unit.

Late in the meeting Howell showed-off one of the county's new road graders, acquired through a lease agreement with Caterpillar. He also applauded the work of the county crews, and wished the best of luck to judge-elect Mike Patterson, who was also in attendance.

Monday night's meeting was also the final for Justice Jim Clifton, who was not eligible to seek re-election. He, in turn, will be sworn-in as a constable on Jan. 1, as new justice Duane Blanchard will take office to serve part of the Corning area.

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